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January 09, 2002

TELEVISION

McEnroe to Host a Self-Control Show

Tennis great John McEnroe has been signed to host a game show for ABC, "The Chair."

McEnroe, who has had a successful career as a TV sports commentator, is an interesting choice for the role. Though he has 154 singles and doubles titles behind him, he's never been known for self-control. And self-control is the premise of the program, in which contestants have to answer questions correctly while keeping their heart rates in tow. If a player's pulse soars beyond the prescribed range, all the money he or she has won disappears and no new questions are posed until the contestant is once again calm.

"The Chair" is produced by Touchstone Television and will debut later this season.

Ex-'Big Brother' Contestant in Trouble

A "Big Brother" contestant who was kicked off the show in July for holding a knife to a woman's throat is facing charges that he assaulted his girlfriend.

Justin Sebik, 27, was arrested in Bayonne, N.J., Monday after police reported finding a woman on a street there about 2 a.m. with a broken ankle and choke marks around her neck. He was released on $1,000 bail.

"[Sebik] choked her and threw her on the ground, causing her to fracture her ankle," according to a police report.

Sebik predicted that the charge would be dismissed because it was the result of a misunderstanding. He said his girlfriend and he were breaking up and she fell down trying to take a swipe at him.

And the "Big Brother" incident? Only joking, he maintains. While he was kissing another contestant, he pulled the knife and asked if she'd mind if he killed her. She laughed, he said, and resumed the embrace.

Could a Gay Channel Be Coming to TV?

Viacom's MTV and Showtime are in "serious discussions" about launching a TV channel aimed at gays and lesbians, TV Guide columnist J. Max Robins reports.

He cites industry sources as saying there have been similar discussions at HBO, USA Networks and the Rainbow Media, the programming arm of Cablevision, which runs Bravo and AMC.

"[A gay channel] is being given real consideration," a Viacom insider tells Robins. "Look at the success Showtime has with programming 'Queer as Folk.' And MTV has a long history of being out in front on gay issues and marketing to that community."

"It's about time somebody had gone after that audience with a network," says Tom Wolzien, senior media analyst at the investment firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. "The money is certainly there to support it."

THE ARTS

Museum Attendance Soars with Free Entry

Figures released Monday show that twice as many people have visited national museums in Britain since admissions were abolished last month.

The turnaround came despite the decrease in tourism after the Sept. 11 attacks and in a year when fears of foot and mouth disease also kept foreign tourists away.

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell termed the free entry policy "an enormous success."

Visiting a museum has, once again, become "one of life's free pleasures, like a stroll in the park," she told London's Guardian. "Clearly, charges were acting as a restraint to many people, particularly families. Two adults visiting the new British galleries [at the Victoria and Albert Museum] would have had to pay [$14.40] before free admission."

The numbers, the newspaper points out, do not take into account the reported surge in visitors to museums such as the Tate, National and the National Portrait galleries, which were already free.

MOVIES

Some Don't 'Like It Hot'--or 'Nutty'

Entertainment retailer Virgin has run into trouble in Beirut, where police seized tapes and DVDs of hundred of movies, including "Some Like It Hot," "The Nutty Professor" and "The Great Escape."

The manager of the shop from which they were taken--which the government said was proof of Lebanon's liberalism and ability to attract investment when it opened last year--spent most of the following two days in police detention.

Lebanon's General Security department issued a statement saying the material offends faith and public morals, contains talk that "encourages youngsters to commit suicide" and violates Arab boycott laws against Israel, which are vague and rarely enforced.

"We are amazed," the store's management said in a statement. "Lebanese television stations broadcast most of the confiscated DVDs over and over."

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